Why Illinois Sportsbooks Can’t Take Bets On Illinois, Northwestern Football

Written By Derek Helling on September 23, 2020 - Last Updated on June 23, 2021

The Big Ten is going to try to have a fall football season after all. Legal sportsbooks in Illinois are still limited in college sports betting, however.

There’s one big reason why you won’t see the University of Illinois or Northwestern football futures at those books on the regulated market. That reason is one sentence in the appropriate state law.

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Legal limits on Illinois college sports betting

Sec. 25-25.d of the IL code makes the state’s standard on this matter quite clear. So far, it has been quite noncontroversial despite the growth of the legal sports betting industry in IL.

“A licensee under this Act may not accept a wager for a sports event involving an Illinois collegiate team.”

That applies to all college sports at all levels, not just Football Bowl Division.

So, this winter, you won’t find odds at BetRivers or DraftKings sportsbooks on Bradley University or Chicago State men’s basketball either.

The motivation behind this restriction is integrity. Proponents of such conditions argued college athletes are more susceptible to match-fixing schemes than their peers in the NBA or NFL.

Illinois isn’t the only jurisdiction to impose a restriction like this. New Jersey, Virginia and Washington, DC, also ban betting on college teams within their borders.

There is a crucial difference between the law in IL and those jurisdictions, however. In those places, sportsbooks can’t accept wagers on any intercollegiate events that take place within their borders, either, regardless of which teams are involved.

Law in IL is less restrictive than some, more than others

For example, an NCAA Tournament in Atlantic City would be off-limits for NJ sportsbooks, even if the teams in-play don’t belong to a New Jersey school.

On the other hand, Illinois sports betting law allows wagering on intercollegiate sporting events, regardless of venue, as long as no in-state colleges are involved.

So, in the future, when the Big Ten plays conference tournaments in Chicago, for example, FanDuel and PointsBet sportsbooks can take action on all the games that don’t include Illinois and Northwestern. That goes for futures markets as well.

William Hill Illinois Sportsbook and competitors will post Big Ten football futures, but the market won’t have Illinois or Northwestern as an option. The same will likely apply to March Madness odds later this year.

Other states take a less restrictive approach to college sports betting. Iowa only bans prop bets on individual athletes’ performances. Tennessee‘s only restriction is on in-game or live betting.

More states, like Indiana, do not restrict wagering on college sports at all. That’s also the case in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, whom both have online sports wagering in progress.

No matter how any in-state college teams fare at their respective sports, you won’t find markets on them at legal sportsbooks. Those books will have action on most other major college sporting events, however.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA and the manager of BetHer. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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